Æ (; its traditional name in English is still ash (IPAEng|æʃ).


In English, usage of the ligature varies in different places. In modern typography, and where technological limitations prevent (such as in use of typewriters) "æ" is often eschewed for the digraph "ae". This is often considered incorrect, especially when rendering foreign words where "æ" is considered a letter (e.g. "Æsir", "Ærø") or brand names which make use of the ligature (e.g. "Æon Flux", "Encyclopædia Britannica"). In the United States, the problem of the ligature is sidestepped in many cases by use of a simplified spelling with "e"; compare the common usage, "medieval", with the traditional, "mediæval." However, given the long history of such spellings, they are sometimes used to invoke archaism or in literal quotations of historic sources, for words such as "dæmon".

In Classical Latin, the combination "AE" denotes a diphthong (IPA IPA| [ai̯] ) that had a value similar to the long "i" in most dialects of modern English. It was used both in native words (spelled with "ai" before the 2nd century BC) and in borrowings from Greek words having the diphthong αι (alpha iota). Both classical and present practice is to write the letters separately, but the ligature was used in medieval and early modern writings, in part because "æ" was reduced to a simple vowel (IPA IPA| [ɛ] ) in the imperial period. In some medieval scripts, the ligature was simplified to "ę", small letter "e" with ogonek, the "e-caudata". This form further simplified into a plain "e", which may have influenced or been influenced by the pronunciation change. However, the ligature is still relatively common in liturgical books and musical scores.

In the artificial language Thælssian, "æ" is defined as "the indeterminate vowel-sound between 'a' and 'e.'"

In Old English, the ligature was used to denote a sound intermediate between those of "a" and "e" (IPA IPA| [æ] ), very much like the short "a" of "cat" in many dialects of modern English.

In the modern French alphabet, it is used to spell Latin and Greek borrowings like "tænia" and "ex æquo".

In most varieties of Faroese, "æ" is pronounced as follows:

* IPA| [ɛa] when simultaneously stressed and occurring either word-finally, before a vowel letter, before a single consonant letter, or before the consonant-letter groups "kl, kr, pl, pr, tr, kj, tj, sj" and those consisting of "ð" and one other consonant letter except for "ðr" when pronounced like "gr" (except as below)
*a rather open IPA| [eː] when directly followed by the sound IPA| [a] , as in "ræðast" (silent "ð") and "frægari" (silent "g")
*IPA| [a] in all other cases

One of its etymological origins is Old Norse é (the other is Old Norse æ), and this is particularly evident in the dialects of Suðuroy, where Æ is IPA| [e:] or IPA| [ɛ] :

*æða (eider): Suð. IPA| [eːa] , Northern Faroese IPA| [ɛaːva]
*ætt (family, direction): Suð. IPA| [ɛtː] , Northern Faroese IPA| [atː]

In Icelandic, "æ" signifies a diphthong (IPA2|ai).

In Danish and Norwegian, "æ" represents monophthongal vowel phonemes. In Norwegian there are four ways of pronouncing the letter:

*/IPA|æː/ as in "æ" (the name of the letter), "bær", "læring", "æra", "Ænes", "ærlig", "tærne", "Kværner", "Dæhlie", "særs", "ærfugl", "lært", "trær" ("trees")
*/IPA|æ/ as in "færre", "æsj", "nærmere", "Færder", "Skjærvø", "ærverdig", "vært", "lærd", "Bræin" (where "æi" is pronounced as a diphthong /IPA|æi/)
*/IPA|eː/ as in "Sæther", "Næser", "Sæbø", "gælisk", "spælsau", "bevæpne", "sæd", "æser", "Cæsar", "væte", "trær" ("thread(s)" (verb))
*/IPA|e/ as in "Sæth", "Næss", "Brænne", "væske", "trædd"

In the South and Western Danish dialects, as well as in several Norwegian dialects (for instance the dialects of Trondheim and Tromsø), the phoneme Æ has a significant meaning, "I", and is thus a normal spoken word. In some Southern-Jutish dialects Æ is also the definite article: 'Æ hus' (The house). These dialects are rarely committed to writingDubious.

The Danish and Norwegian usage of 'Ӕ' is equivalent to the vowel and letter 'Ä' in the Swedish and Finnish alphabets and languages.

The Ossetic language used the letter "æ" when it was written using the Latin script (1923–38). Since then, Ossetian has used a Cyrillic alphabet with an identical-looking letter (unicode|Ӕ and unicode|ӕ).

Another example of use:In the southern part of Norway, Kristiansand, Æ has a meaning of both "I" and "Is". Æ can represent both meanings in the same short sentence, "Æ æ glad" ("I am happy"). Or just the one meaning; "Han æ glad" ("He is happy"). Note that this has usually in everyday conversation use, although there seems to be a going trend towards using it in writing as well, as in the slogan "Æ æ Startfan" ("I am a Start fan", referring to a local football club).

International Phonetic Alphabet

The symbol IPA| [æ] is also used in the International Phonetic Alphabet to denote a near-open front unrounded vowel, as in the word "cat" in many dialects of modern English: this is the sound most likely represented by the Old English letter. In this context, it is always in lowercase.

Computer use

thumb|right|Danish keyboard with keys for Æ, Ø and Å. OnNorwegian keyboards the Æ and Ø trade places.

For computers, when using the Latin-1 or Unicode character sets, the code points for "Æ" and "æ" are U+00C6 and U+00E6, respectively, or 198 and 230 in decimal. The characters can be entered by holding the Alt key while typing in 0198 or 0230 on the number pad on Windows systems (the Alt key and 145 for æ or 146 for Æ may also work if the system is in the IBM437 or IBM850 codepages), or by holding down the option key while typing an apostrophe ( ' ) on a Macintosh system under various keyboard layouts, including the U.S. layout. In Microsoft Word, "unicode|Ӕ" and "unicode|ӕ" can be written using the key combination CTRL + SHIFT + & followed by A or a.

On US-International keyboards, Æ is accessible with the combination of AltGr+z.

In X, AltGr+A is often mapped to æ/Æ, or a Compose key sequence Compose + a + e can be used. For more information, see Unicode input methods.

There is also Cyrillic "unicode|Ӕ" and "unicode|ӕ" in Unicode (U+04D4, U+04D5), though in practice the Latin letters Æ and æ (U+00C6, U+00E6) are used in Cyrillic texts (such as on Ossetian sites on the Internet).

In HTML, the HTML character entity references Æ and æ have been assigned to Æ and æ, respectively, where “lig” is short for "ligature".

Æ as abbreviation

Æ and æ were quite commonly used as abbreviations for Latin "aetate" or "aetate sua" meaning, roughly, "at the age of" N years (the implied construction being an ablative absolute); also the genitive "aetatis suae", Nth year "of his/her age". In inscriptions and records, the most common use is for the age at death.

George William Russell, the "fin de siècle" Irish poet, signed himself Æ meaning "Æon".

Some Autechre recordings bear the abbreviated logo, Ae.

The website Encyclopedia Dramatica uses æ as its logo.

Aylmer Express uses æ as its logo

See also

*Æ (Cyrillic)
*Ae (digraph)
*E caudata
*List of words spelled with æ
*Near-open front unrounded vowel (represented by æ in the IPA)
*Ansuz rune


* Robert Bringhurst (2002). "The Elements of Typographic Style", page 271. Vancouver, Hartley & Marks. ISBN 0-88179-205-5

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